Sid Marantz is no stranger to the thrill of the Olympic Games.
As a teenager in 1960, Marantz attended his first Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rome with his family. Returning to the Olympics in 1976 in Montreal, he was introduced to what was become the unofficial spectator sport of the Games: pin badge trading.
Olympic pin badges were first created for the 1896 Olympic Games in Greece. The original pins were cardboard disks that identified judges, athletes and officials. It wasn’t until the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, however, that pin trading began catching on with fans, making Marantz’s first few pins priceless keepsakes.
Now, 40 years later, Marantz’s collection totals more than 12,000 pins. And he has no plans to slow down.
As he prepares to travel to Rio de Janeiro for his 16th Olympic and Paralympic Games, he’s focused on diversifying his collection. Fueled by the prospect of securing sought-after pins, Marantz enjoys the thrill of the hunt, especially for National Olympic Committee (NOC) pins. NOC pins are badges specific to athletes and coaches that can only be acquired by trading with an athlete. They are not available for purchase, making them more desirable for traders.
Collectors trade pins inside Coke's Olympic Village pavilion at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With so many Olympic Games under his belt, Marantz has no shortage of stories to tell. From trading pins with the Clintons and the president of Finland, to chasing down a trader in a Barcelona subway station where pins were scarce, he has experienced it all.
And having been involved with Coca-Cola’s Pin Trading Centers each winter and summer Olympic Games since 1998, Marantz is especially keen to track down Coke’s collection of 98 pins for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with the Pin of the Day program being a main focus.
Pin of the Day was first introduced at the Lillehammer Games in 1994, and has since become a tradition. Each day of the games, Coca-Cola releases one pin that will combine with the other Pin of the Day pins to create the iconic Coca-Cola glass contour bottle shape.
Here, Maggie Williams, an intern with Coke's Heritage Communications team, offers a brief history of Coca-Cola Olympic pin trading:
Will Marantz have time to watch the action?
“I always take some time to watch the Games," he said. "One of the great things about pin trading is that you can find someone to trade with anywhere in the park, whether you’re in the stands watching an event, or at one of the pin trading centers.”
Coca-Cola will have an official pin trading site located in the Olympic Park at the Coca-Cola #ThatsGold Experience, and will also sell select pins at Latin America's largest Coca-Cola pop-up store inside Parada Coca-Cola in downtown Rio. The pin trading areas are expected to welcome more than 5,000 visitors per day.
Another of those visitors will be Pam Litz.
Litz, a school teacher, volunteered at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, where she first noticed small groups huddled throughout the park trading pins. After buying a few as souvenirs, she quickly became hooked.
“Pin trading brings people together," she said. "It’s incredible seeing people from all across the world come together to take part in pin trading.”
Both Marantz and Litz are executive members of Olympin, the world’s largest Olympic collectors club, that collects everything from pins to Olympic torches.
For the past few Olympics, Litz has volunteered as a Coca-Cola pin trading expert at the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centers, helping newcomers make their first trades.
Pam Litz (right) with Don Bigsby, founder and president of the Olympin Collectors Club, at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
It's rewarding, Litz says, to share a hobby she's so passionate about with others. “Mostly, I love the interaction with people from so many different countries who connect through this universal language and can be so joyful and excited when doing it," she explains.
Currently, there are not many Brazilian pin traders, as the Olympics has never been held in South America. Litz is hoping to help first-timers understand what pin trading is all about, and simply have fun connecting with people around the world.
Litz explains that for many traders, the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a chance to reconnect with old friends. “Each of the Olympics is a reunion where I count on seeing and sharing good times with [friends] from Norway, China, Russia, Canada, Greece, France and Australia, not to mention my dozens of pin trader friends from the states," she said.